Mailing yourself a copy of your creative work DOES NOT protect your copyright. Reply

Please be advised that there is no provision in the copyright law or the practices of the  Copyright Office regarding any type of protection known as the “poor man’s copyright.” The mere act of placing a copy in the mail addressed to oneself does not secure statutory copyright protection for the work, nor will it serve as a substitute for registration of a claim to copyright in this Office in terms of legal and evidentiary value.

Quote above is from the U.S. Copyright Office’s website at https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-infringement.htmlmailing-myth

It only costs $35-$55 to protect your creative work by registering it with the U.S. Copyright Office.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: other blog posts on related topics –  “Copyright Protection Only Costs $35; “It is a MYTH that Copyright Registration is Expensive“; “How to Write a Copyright Notice and Why To Use It“; and the U.S. Copyright Office website at www.copyright.gov; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

New trend of Phone-Free Concerts has many benefits Reply

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-3-33-01-pmFans are required to place their cellphones into Yondr’s form-fitting lockable pouch when entering the show, and a disk mechanism unlocks it on the way out. Fans keep the pouch with them, but it is impossible for them to snap pictures, shoot videos or send text messages during the performance while the pouch is locked.  (quote from NY Times article titled, Your Phone’s on Lockdown. Enjoy the Show)

Not surprisingly performing artists reportedly enjoy playing phone-free concerts.

When the rocker Axl Rose reunited with his former Guns N’ Roses bandmates, Duff McKagan and Slash, for the first time in 23 years, the concert was phone-free. “God, it was wonderful,” Mr. McKagan said of the first reunion show in April, at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. “It was the old-school feeling, where people were dancing and getting down. It was really cool.”

In addition to increasing the fun “old-school feeling” at a phone-free concert, decreasing the likelihood of intellectual property infringement may be a hidden benefit of a phone-free concert. While it’s not uncommon for audience members to record and post concert clips, this can infringe a bundle of intellectual property rights including:

  • Copyright in the music compositions and lyrics (often controlled by the publisher or sometimes the artist)
  • Copyright in the performance (often controlled by the label)
  • Trademarks of the band, club or venue

I haven’t met a Yondr case yet; although, I’m looking forward to using one sometime soon at a phone-free concert.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

See also: Previous blog post Recording and Posting Concert Clips: what’s legal… what’s not at http://wp.me/p10nNq-os; The New York Times article titled, Your Phone’s on Lockdown. Enjoy the Show. by J. Morrissey at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/16/technology/your-phones-on-lockdown-enjoy-the-show.html?_r=0; Yondr website at http://overyondr.com/; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

 

Michael Phelps’s swim cap: winner trademark placement Reply

Have you noticed the MP logo front and center on Michael Phelps’s swim cap?  Visible on the starting block and many close-ups, MP is a trademark for Michael Phelps’s brand of swim gear (USPTO Serial No. 86966342).  According to a press release on www.michaelphelps.com; Michael Phelps, coach Bob Bowman and swimming equipment manufacturer Aqua Sphere have collaborated to design a line of premier swim gear and training equipment for the MP brand.  Outfitting Michael Phelps in MP gear for the Rio Olympics – including adding the MP logo front and center on Michael Phelps’s swim cap is brilliant trademark placement and likely required a savvy negotiation.  Three cheers for Michael Phelps, the MP trademark and the negotiator who secured the trademark placement.

Don’t be fooled into thinking trademark placement like the MP on Michael Phelps’s swim cap wasn’t negotiated for.  Brand promotion at the Olympics (and almost anywhere) is big business.  Official partners of the Olympics pay big bucks to share the spotlight with Olympians.  Did you notice the tape and American flag stickers placed on Olympic swimmers’ headphones to cover the BEATS trademark?  Evidently Beats gave Michael Phelps and other high-profile Olympians free headphones but did not pay to be an official Olympic partner… hence tape and stickers over their trademark.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: Previous blog posts on trademarks at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/t-r-a-d-e-m-a-r-k/; The Wall Street Journal article titled, Rio 2016: Michael Phelps’s Golden Change to Rebuild His Brand by M. Futterman and R. Bachman at http://on.wsj.com/2bdgnW1 ; Reuters article titled, Phelps Challenges Former Sponsor Speedo With New Brand by L.B. Baker at http://reut.rs/1Sa6c47 ; Business Insider article titled, Michael Phelps was forced to cover the logo of his Beats headphones and he did a lackluster job with the tape by C. Gaines at http://www.businessinsider.com/michael-phelps-beats-olympics-headphones-2016-8; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

 

PRIVACY -fabulous play at The Public Theater about privacy online  Reply

If you have a smart phone, use apps and share content online, seeing the play PRIVACY at The Public Theater is a must.  The talented cast engages audience members in exploring the hard to grasp topic of privacy (or lack there of) online.

Who are we online? How much information do we give away about ourselves when we connect online?  Who can see us online?

Is our location tracked each time we use a transportation app or log into a wifi network?  Is our first social media post still visible?  What privacy terms are we agreeing to each time we use an app or social media website?

The play PRIVACY is entertaining, informative, interactive and at times a bit spooky.  I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

See also: Previous blog posts on website privacy policies at  https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/website-privacy-policy; blog post on imitating others online at http://wp.me/p10nNq-Cg; The Public Theater’s website for information about the play and ticket sales at www.publictheater.org/en/Public-Theater-Season/Privacy/; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

U.S. is a Top Destination for Immigrant Inventors 2

map

This map (produced by WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization) shows the migratory patterns for the immigrant inventor community. As you can see the United States is a top destination for these highly skilled, valuable, innovative, creative folks.  Let’s keep welcoming them!

With immigration as a focus of the current presidential campaigns in the United States, this map is a reminder of the tremendous value and contribution of many foreign-born individuals who immigrate to the United States.

“Not throwing away my shot” is one of the refrains in the hit Broadway musical Hamilton sung by Lin-Manuel Miranda… and could be the theme music for the map and this post. (Reminder: Alexander Hamilton was an immigrant.)

This map is part of a report published by WIPO in May 2013 titled, Measuring the International Mobility of Inventors: A New Database, Working Paper No. 8.  The report is available at: http://www.wipo.int/edocs/pubdocs/en/wipo_pub_econstat_wp_8.pdf

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

See also: U.S. Patent Statistics Chart Calendar Years 1963-2015 at http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/us_stat.htm;  hear the song “Not throwing away my shot” from the musical Hamilton and read the lyrics at http://genius.com/Lin-manuel-miranda-my-shot-lyrics; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com

Trademark – in a stylized font Reply

A trademark or logo can include an original font.ImageAgentProxyFor example, COCA-COLA (in a stylized font) is a famous registered trademark that includes an original font. Note that the COCA-COLA Company has registered COCA-COLA as a trademark with and without the stylized font. There are legal advantages to having registrations for a word trademark with and without a stylized font.

  • An advantage to registering the COCA-COLA trademark with a stylized font is that copycat brands can be prevented from using the typeface in a trademark to sell goods and services.
  • An advantage to registering the COCA-COLA trademark without a stylized font is that the trademark owner is granted rights to protect the text element of the trademark in any font.  Another advantage to registering a trademark without a stylized font is that it grants a level of domain protection.

A key to including a font or stylized lettering in a trademark is originality of the font or stylized lettering.  In addition to originality, other factors to consider when assessing whether to apply for USPTO registration of a trademark in a specific font or stylized letter are:

  • How instrumental the font or stylized lettering is to the brand, andIMG_2903
  • How long the specific font or stylized lettering will be used.  Back to the example of COCA-COLA, the famous trademark in stylized script has been used by the company as a trademark since 1886. (U.S. Reg. No. 0022406).

By: Vanessa Kaster, Esq. LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: Blog posts on use the TM & SM symbols on unregistered trademarks at: https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/t-r-a-d-e-m-a-r-k/trademarks-tm-sm; USPTO (U.S. Patent & Trademark Office) resources at www.uspto.gov; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com

 

 

Photo Release for a Horse (of course) Reply

Photo releases are a useful tool for obtaining permission to photograph models (of all types and species) and to use the photos of the model for specific purposes.  While we may all think of beautiful people as models, horses and other animals can be models too.  A photo release may be needed from a horse’s owner to take and use photographs of a horse for specific purposes including publication, printing, selling, distribution and commercial use.

I recently read that the owner of horse-photobomber (featured in the prize winning photograph above) has demanded some of the prize money won by the folks who took the photograph and entered it into a contest.  While the photobombing probably wasn’t planned, obtaining a photo release before taking, using or entering the photograph in the contest would likely have avoided the dispute that has developed over the prize money.  The horse’s “smile” does add to the photograph.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: earlier posts on photo releases at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/photo-releases; a news article on the dispute: Photobomb Horse Owner Demands Share of £2000 Selfie-Prize at www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/feb/02/owner-photobomb-horse-demands-share-2000-selfie-prize?CMP=fb_gu; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Famous Trademarks Have Broad Protection (royal treatment) Reply

Famous trademarks are treated like trademark royalty and have broad protection against Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 5.40.07 PMsimilar trademarks used on both related and unrelated goods and services.

For example, a winery applied for USPTO trademark registration of the term “PINK FLOYD” for wine and was refused registration because:

the applied-for mark consists of or includes matter which may falsely suggest a connection with PINK FLOYD the music group.  Although PINK FLOYD is not connected with the goods and/or services provided by applicant under the applied-for mark, PINK FLOYD is so famous that consumers would presume a connection.

The USPTO’s refusal to register the applied-for PINK FLOYD trademark for wine includes a four-part test used to evaluate the existence of a false connection:

The following is required for a showing of false connection under the Trademark Act Section 2(a)[in the U.S.]:

  1. The mark sought to be registered is the same as, or a close approximation of, the name or identity previously used by another person or institution;
  2. The mark would be recognized as such, in that it points uniquely and unmistakably to that person or institution;
  3. The person or institution identified in the mark is not connected with the goods sold or services performed by applicant under the mark; and
  4. The fame or reputation of the named person or institution is of such a nature that a connection with such person or institution would be presumed when applicant’s mark is used on its goods and/or services.

This is one example of the broad protection granted to famous trademarks.  (Find another way to pay tribute to a favorite band or music group).

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.    crown

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: a copy of the USPTO’s final office action for the PINK FLOYD application above [Serial No.77588367]; an earlier post on new business trademarks at http://wp.me/p10nNq-B; an INTA fact sheet on Famous and Well-Known Marks at www.inta.org; earlier posts on trademarks at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/t-r-a-d-e-m-a-r-k/; a link to U.S. Federal Trademark Law at www.uspto.gov; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

 

 

 

Copycat Cookie = Trademark Lawsuit Reply

Last month, Pepperidge Farm sued Trader Joe’s over copycat cookies. Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 1.57.56 PMPepperidge Farm claims the copycat cookies look too similar to its popular Milano cookies (and feature a similar “fluted paper cup” on their packaging). See the photo to the right. Pepperidge Farm claims these similarities damage its goodwill, confuse consumers and infringe its registered trademark. Interestingly, the Milano cookie shape is a registered trademark [U.S. Registration No. 3,852,499].

A few interesting details:

  • Milano cookies are famous cookies that Pepperidge Farm started selling in 1956.
  • Pepperidge Farm is a successful company, makes lots of money selling Milano cookies and can afford this litigation. (Trader Joe’s can likely afford this too).
  • The packaging of Trader Joe’s cookie features a picture of its cookies displayed in fluted paper cups (which is how Milano cookies are sold); however, the interior packaging is actually a plastic tray.
  • The two cookies are not the exact same shape. Trader Joe’s cookies are more rectangular.

This last point may be difficult to overcome. The court may be Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 1.46.06 PMreluctant to enforce a product design trademark for a sandwich cookie when the allegedly infringing cookie is not the same shape.  It will be interesting to follow this case and see what happens next.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: a copy of the Complaint filed in December at http://ia601509.us.archive.org/4/items/gov.uscourts.ctd.110383/gov.uscourts.ctd.110383.1.0.pdf; earlier posts on trademarks at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/t-r-a-d-e-m-a-r-k/; a Reuters news article on the lawsuit: Pepperidge Farm sues Trader Joe’s over Milano cookie at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-traderjoes-pepperidgefarm-lawsuit-idUSKBN0TN1X020151205; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Fans say YES after LEGO says NO (& refuses to fulfill an order for artist Ai Weiwei) Reply

Reading excerpts from a rejection-letter from the LEGO toymaker to the Australian National Gallery in response to a bulk legoorder for an upcoming instillation by the famous, artist Ai Weiwei… is a cautionary reminder of how quickly viral backlash can unfurl.

In addition to refusing to fulfill a bulk order for toy bricks placed by the museum, the LEGO toymaker evidently requested the following in their rejection-letter:

  1. The LEGO trademark cannot be used commercially in any way to promote, or name, the artwork; and
  2. It must be clear to the public that the LEGO Group has not sponsored or endorsed the artwork/project.

In response to the LEGO toymaker’s rejection-letter, collection points have been established around the world for LEGO brick donations to support the art project and the artist has decided to make a new work defending freedom of speech and political art.  (I’d say it’s pretty clear to the public that the LEGO Group has not sponsored or endorsed the art project).

The Brooklyn Museum is accepting LEGO brick donations – donations can be placed in the sunroof of a car parked in front of the museum or can be sent by mail –> https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/ai_weiwei_lego_collection_point

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: earlier posts on trademarks at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/t-r-a-d-e-m-a-r-k/; a BBC News article titled, “Australia gallery collects Lego for Ai Weiwei at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-34664262; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.